Friday, April 19, 2024

Eat Local, Live Better: Port City Taste kicks off Monday, Jan. 25 [Free]

Brasserie du Soleil is one of 24 participants in Port City Taste and will offer a 3-course dinner for $35. (Port City Daily/Photo by Pam Varela)

WILMINGTON — Port City Daily will kick off its inaugural restaurant week, Port City Taste, on Monday, Jan. 25. Featuring more than 20 restaurants offering special prix-fixe menus, the celebration of supporting all-local eats will extend through Feb. 7.

Port City Taste comes at an integral time for southeastern N.C.’s restaurant industry. The winter off-season is traditionally the slowest time of year. Not to mention, it’s been a rough year for businesses having to deal with the effects of a pandemic.

According to the National Restaurant Association, around $240 billion was lost in sales in 2020 from restaurants enduring shutdowns and abnormal hours, switching models to mostly takeout, and amending operations if Covid-19 showed up in their eateries among staff or customers.

RELATED: The 2020 Dish: Restaurants open and close, business owners reflect on a year of struggles

Because of such, Port City Taste will ensure that diners can support their favorite restaurants and feel safe doing so. Port City Taste menus are available for dine-in (mask mandates and Covid-19 protocols enforced) and some are even takeout, so everyone can participate.

Offers vary from restaurant to restaurant — casual to fine dining, two-course lunches for $12, four-course dinners for $30, and three-course dinners for two for $45. Diners will enjoy a range of eats: American, Asian, Italian, Low-Country, sandwiches, pizza, seafood, salads, vegan dishes — and of course dessert. Some even include flights of beer or kombucha.

Participating restaurants include: Crust, Floriana’s, Fun Bowl, The Pilot House, Quanto Basta Italian Eatery, YoSake, Blue Surf Cafe, Henry’s, Hop’s Supply Company, Might As Well, Panacea Brewing Company, Wrightsville Beach Brewery, Bluewater, Brasserie du Soleil, East Oceanfront, Oceanic, Oceans at Holiday Inn, South Beach Grill, Waterman’s Brewing, Churrasco, Osteria Cicchetti, and Ogden Tap Room.

Panacea, which specializes in vegan items, will offer a 3-course meal for two for $45, including a flight of their homemade kombucha . (Port City Daily/Courtesy photo)

“We’re excited to be participating in restaurant week again this year,” Shelley Musleh, Osteria Cicchetti’s general manager, said.

Restaurant week originally was founded in Wilmington by encore magazine in 2009. Over the years, it expanded into Wrightsville Beach and even Pleasure Island. Port City Daily re-envisioned the entity once it became aware restaurant week wouldn’t continue under encore’s branding any longer.

Urban Food Group, which runs Osteria Cicchetti, Brasserie du Soleil and Boca Bay, participates annually. Though this year Boca Bay will sit out Port City Taste, as it is undergoing renovations.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to introduce customers not familiar with our restaurant to our wonderful food and service,” Musleh said. “Hopefully, their positive experience will incentivize them to become repeat customers.” 

Also returning to restaurant week is YoSake, owned by Justin Smith who also operates the restaurant Anne Bonnys (closed through February) and Dram + Morsel, located above YoSake.

“We have been using Dram as additional seating for YoSake during the pandemic,” Smith said. “It was easier to plan and give customers the necessary space to eat [considering social-distance protocols].”

Port City Taste allows diners to enjoy old standbys and new places at great values not offered throughout the year.

“Hopefully, folks can try something different or have their favorite meal that they might not have otherwise,” Smith said.

It’s easy to participate in Port City Taste: Diners can peruse the menus — and can print them out and tack them to the ‘fridge — call up their friends, and head to any participating eatery between Jan. 25-Feb. 7 to dine in or take away the food. Just say you’re there for Port City Taste and eat local, live better!

See all participating menus here.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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